Speedboats Deployed as Sesan Dam Begins Flooding One Village

Nearly two weeks after testing of the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam began, floodwaters have now crept into the first of a pair of Stung Treng province villages where families are refusing to abandon their homes.

Two villages in Sesan district—Srekor and Kbal Romeas—are slated for imminent flooding amid the gradual closure of floodgates at the 400-megawatt dam since July 15. The vast majority of roughly 5,000 people living in what will turn into the dam’s 36,000-hectare reservoir have reluctantly moved to nearby resettlement sites. But about 120 families in the two villages have stayed put, defiant and skeptical that the waters will sink their homes.

Ly Hen, a Srekor villager, said rising floods had reached some plots in the village on Wednesday night.

“The village is already flooding and some people are transporting their belongings to the shelters on the hill, while some people are preparing to leave their homes for the safety hill,” he said, referring to a small hill a few kilometers from Srekor where villagers had set up temporary shelters. But the flooding was as yet insubstantial, Mr. Hen said, and added that he had not seen any government officials warning of evacuation.

Men Kong, a spokesman for the provincial government, however, said military police and police were preparing speedboats to evacuate residents who had defied warnings from authorities and refused to move.

“We have sent some more forces that were deployed in Kbal Romeas village to Srekor village to help with the evacuation in case the flood turns serious,” Mr. Kong said.

The water’s depth at a key measuring station had on Thursday reached 70 meters, he said, above a previously given threshold of 68 meters at which Srekor was expected to flood.

Kbal Romeas was still mostly dry, though some areas around the village were seeing minor flooding, he said.

Technical problems had delayed the closing of the last two of the dam’s 10 floodgates, Mr. Kong added.

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